Cash, Zane, and Cade

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stronger Than All

There were many amazing people that we met during our time in the NICU. For those of you just joining us, that stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Our particular unit was located in Temple, Texas at the Scott and White Hospital. I have always meant to write a bit more about the eight and a half weeks our boys spent there. Carrie went to the NICU everyday, and I made it as often as I could, never going more than two days between visits. This was a very tough time for Carrie and I, and perhaps one of the reasons that I haven't written more about it, is because I really don't like to think about it too much. Looking back, our time there went by relatively easy. Sure, there were some tough days, and a couple that were very scary. All in all, we were very very fortunate to have three tough little guys that were taken care of by the very best people on earth. As I write this, Cade is sitting on my lap and staring at the computer screen. Someday, I will tell him all about those special people and how they made sure that we get to sit here today.

Back to the point. What I meant to tell you is about the most amazing people that we met during our time in the hospital. First of all, let me describe the unit a bit for you. When you ride the elevator up, you come to the baby floor as I called it. To your right is Labor and Delivery. Take a left and you walk through the waiting room and up to the nurse's station to get into the NICU. You have to be buzzed in. Only parents and grandparents are allowed. No siblings. Next, you walk down a long hallway and on the left are the doors leading into the rooms with the babies. Outside each room is a sink you used to wash up. Next to the sink is a closet filled with gowns that you must put on. Inside this room were all the babies. There were several stations with babies in different stages of development. Those in the incubators were brand new, while the older babies were in cribs. Moms and Dads came and went. Since we were all so concerned with our children, a smile and a nod was all the communication that passed between us. The nurses were not allowed to talk to the other parents about any of the other babies. As a parent, you were not allowed to venture out of your area. Since the room is very large and open, you could get a good idea about what was happening around you. You knew when someone had a heart rate drop or when someone was screaming. Our boys took up quite a bit of space in the room. We were all along one wall. Behind us was a sort of island with computers and all the equipment that the nurses needed to take care of babies. On the other side of that island, in a crib, hooked up to all sorts of devices, was baby Chloe. She was the rock star of the NICU. She was born in January, and by the time our boys were born on June 2nd, she had been in the NICU for about six months.

Carrie and I knew that Chloe must be having a rough time of it. We couldn't ask any questions, so we didn't know exactly what was up, we just knew that this little girl had been having a very very hard time. After a few days, we met her mother whose name is Dawn. She was the most upbeat positive person I believe that I have ever met. She told us that she lived in Hutto, which is Northeast of Austin. She drove there every single day to be with her little girl. Dawn was always so happy for us when she would ask about the boys. Carrie and I couldn't help but feel a bit guilty. Here we were with three healthy babies. Somehow it seemed unfair. Often times, we would run into her just outside the door by the scrub sink. She would give us the latest on Chloe. They were hoping for the best. She was never down. No matter what happened, she was always positive. Carrie and I couldn't believe this. We hadn't been there long and the NICU was already getting to us. We simply couldn't imagine going there every single day for six months. As our boys grew and did better, we watched Chloe go through extreme ups and downs. I regret that I really never got to talk to Chloe's Dad very much. His name is David. I guess that often times he would sit outside in the waiting room with their two young children while Dawn was with Chloe. Chloe's brother and sister could not go into the NICU to see their sister. David would often wait for Dawn to get home from the hospital late at night, and then turn around and drive back up there himself to spend time with her. This trip is around 60 miles one way. All this time they had two children at home and a baby in the hospital fighting for her life.

I must say, and Carrie agrees, that Chloe and her family played a very large part in our surviving our time in the NICU. When one of us would get down, or we would be sad to leave our boys, one of us would say, "What about Chloe's family? They have been doing this for months." Watching their strength gave us strength. Seeing Dawn smile at us when there was literally a team of people working on her daughter was absolutely one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed.

Because of the rules, I never saw Chloe up close. However, she was quite a presence. All the nurses and doctors, and nurse practitioners were in love with this little girl. Her strength and determination to survive was astounding. When my boys were crying, I would say to them, "That girl over there is tougher than you. She wouldn't cry through this. You can be tough too."

As our time at the NICU drew to a close, things were changing for Chloe also. She was moving out of the NICU and into the Pediatric Ward I believe. The last time I spoke with Dawn she had nothing but hope for her daughter and her journey. They were going to be in the hospital until at least August or September. Since we left the NICU we have thought about Chloe often. Carrie would get updates through Facebook from Dawn and relay them to me.

Today, we received the news that Chloe has left us for a better place. Carrie and I are very sad for her family. We wanted to share her story with you so that you would know how much Chloe and her family did for us. We found out tonight just before it was time to feed our boys. I went in to get them and they were all screaming. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. I will not take it for granted and I am very thankful for our boys and I am thankful that we got to know Chloe.

Always positive and upbeat, I want to leave you with Dawn's words about Chloe.

"It is with great sadness for me, rejoicing for her...our precious Chloe Elizabeth Gallaway went home to the loving arms of Jesus this morning. David and I thank you for all of your support and prayers through her precious 8 month journey. God gave us an amazing treasure...we will see her again!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Baby Wranglers

I was completely unaware of the tradition to photograph babies at an early age. Yes, I have seen baby pictures, and I realize that someone must have taken them at some baby photo session. However, it had not occurred to me that there was an entire industry dedicated to photographing babies. I guess it makes sense. Add this to the long list of things that do not occur to a guy. Here is a short list of things that do not occur to guys, or at least any guys I know.

1. When the bathroom is dirty
2. The floor is not where dirty clothes go
3. How to fold socks
4. The T.V. gets the Lifetime and Oxygen networks
5. Baby photos are a big deal

Apparently, you photograph babies at several points in their young lives. The other thing is that between our two IPhones and our digital camera, the babies get their pictures taken at least ten times per day. These photos are e-mailed and messaged all over the country. I get several a day from Carrie of the boys basically saying "Hi Dad". I appreciate each photo she sends. I was silly to think that these photos were good enough. In the end, as per usual, I'm happy I listened to my wife.

I was informed that the time was here to have a professional photographer take some quality photos of our boys. We gave it our best shot on Labor Day Weekend. We had a friend who is a great photographer come over one afternoon. I quickly learned how hard it is to get an infant to cooperate with a photo shoot, let alone three infants. The boys did not cooperate at all. At least one boy was mad in every single photo. It was time to regroup.

We decided to call in a photographer that dealt with babies. Enter Neely Brook. We headed to Mayfield Park here in Austin on Sunday morning. This was forward thinking. The boys are in the best mood first thing in the morning which is great. We crossed our fingers and the results speak for themselves. They ended up really great. The new photo at the top of the page is proof.

Here is another:

We are really happy with the photos of the boys. They are getting really big, weighing in at over 13 lbs each. The other awesome news is that they are sleeping through the night. We feed them every four hours at 7, 11, and 3 during the day, but after their 11 p.m. feeding, they sleep all night. The cool thing is, since we started this thing last Friday, they haven't made any noise to speak of.

By the way, I haven't forgotten about the feeding frenzy video. We just have to capture the right moment on film.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

That Was Fast

The wheels come down hard here at Rolling For Trips. I am talking about time. Time rolls at the same constant pace. Crushingly constant. Depending on your perspective time may seem to go faster or slower depending on what you are doing. However, time is constant and unrelenting in force.

One second Carrie was pregnant. The next second the boys were born. Two seconds after that we were in the hospital. Next thing I know, they are home and growing at a very rapid rate. Sometimes it's so fast that it takes my breath away. I feel like if I blink I'll miss some huge milestone.

We went to the Doctor for our second check-up. The boys weighed right around eleven and half pounds each. This was less than a month after their original due date of August 16th. By September 16th they will definitely be at the twelve pound mark. What's that mean? Well, it means they are really big. For pre-mature babies, they are in the ninety-fifth percentile. I am happy to report that the Doctor said the boys are extremely healthy and normal little guys. He said we are doing a great job.

A few things are already over, and I can't help but feel a little sad. Don't get me wrong, I know how lucky we are, and I am very happy about their progress. However, seeing them grow at such a pace puts things into perspective. Let's take a look some things that are over.

Feeding Every Three Hours - While that was going on it seemed really difficult. One feeding stopped and you had a minute before the next one started. Now we are at every four hours. They eat at 11, 3, and 7 around the clock. In a month, the doctor said we could go all night without waking them up to feed them. That means night feedings will be over. Wow. That was fast. Carrie may argue with me there, but I doubt it. See, she does most of the 3 a.m. feedings. I can't believe that little section is almost gone.

Clothes - The 0 to 3 month clothes are too small. We are onto the 3 to 6 month clothes. Some of the clothes they have grown out of are pretty cool. I look at them, and then look at the clothes and think, "Wow, how did you fit in that less than a month ago?"

Car Seats - We already had to move the straps to the next bigger size. We did that today before we took the boys and Tess to the park.

Formula - We are passed the point where they need the formula for pre-mature babies, and onto normal regular formula for regular babies.

Heads - They work hard to hold their heads up. They now follow your actions with their eyes. When they are looking up at me they seem to be saying "I'm watching you. I am going to learn everything from you. I want to do what you do." That's a big responsibility. I screw up a lot in my day to day life. The thought of having three sets of eyes looking up to me as a role model is a bit intimidating. I really better get it together.

Cribs - The Pack and Play is still awesome and they love it. However, it's getting to the point where all three of them are little tight in there. They really don't like to touch each other when they are sleeping. They used to sleep all in the same crib, but now they each use their own.

This past weekend was really fun. Their Uncle Justin and Aunt Jennifer visited from Illinois. Justin is Carrie's brother. Jennifer and Carrie seem to be exactly the same person in a lot of respects, so Justin and I have a lot of sympathy for one another. We did a lot of getting out with the boys. Here is a picture of us at The Oasis on Lake Travis here in Austin.

The people at The Oasis were really nice and extremely accommodating. They made sure we had a nice table overlooking the lake and a place for the triplet stroller. I have to admit, the comments and the stares really got to me on this particular trip. One idiot next to us kept staring at the boys. I stared back.

Idiot: Wow. That's a big stroller.

Me: Yes it is. You have a tremendous grasp of the obvious.

Idiot: How do you get it through a doorway?

(Oh the things to say at this point. The many things to say.)

Me: You roll it.

Then, one lady walks up and drops this one on us:

"WOW!! What happened here?"

I looked at Carrie.

I waited.

Neither one of us said anything. However, you can imagine what went through both of our minds. The things we could have said. I think Jennifer jumped in and saved us. Here is Jennifer and I'm pretty sure she is holding Zane.

The previous day we had gone to the Capitol Building here in Austin. Want proof? Here is a picture of the capitol that I got off of Jennifer's Facebook page. We aren't in it. There are no babies in this picture, but we were really there. Seriously.
Anyway, on our way into the capitol with the triplet stroller some lady says:

Lady: Oh MY GOD!! How adorable! They are so sweet!

Me: Thank you very much.

Lady: Could I take their picture?

Wow. What do you say here? Here is a lady with a little girl who I think was her granddaughter. She wants to take a picture of three babies. Perfect strangers. For some reason I said yes. I think it was because she was so nice and sincere. She really meant no harm. I just found it odd. People asking for photos is a weird thing. I'm used to it from being in the band, but when it's your kids, it's strange. So, I came up with how to handle it in the future. Actually, this is Carrie's idea.

Weird Person: Can I take their picture? I haven't seen identical triplets before.

Me: Hey, I've never seen a kid as ugly as yours. If we can take a picture of your ugly kid, you can take a picture of our triplets. Deal?

Here is a picture of Justin and Jennifer with the boys.

The order here is.....

Wanna guess?

Okay, place your bets. Place your bets. Don't Scroll Down. Click on the Photo to make it larger.

What do you think?




Zane, Cade, Cash

In other news, Carrie got a new jug to mix formula in. My old method as shown in the video is no longer necessary. This new way is a lot less violent and does not require that you lie on the floor. Oh well, that was fun while it lasted.

I want to thank everyone for reading the blog. It really is fun to write, and I'm going to write one as often as possible. Thanks to you, I do believe we are the most popular triplet blog on the internet. Since we started in February we have had almost 50,000 visitors. Feel free to pass it on to your friends and family.

Coming Soon to Rolling For Trips:


Wednesday, September 1, 2010